Clarke volleyball overcomes sluggish play to sweep Central
Posted: October 4, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
BERRYVILLE — Perhaps coming out a little flat after an emotional five-set win at George Mason on Tuesday, Bull Run District co-leader Clarke County got a much more competitive volleyball match out of Central than it probably figured it would on Wednesday night.
Each set went down to the wire, but the Eagles were definitely the best team around the net down the stretch and came away with a 3-0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-19) win.
“We played hard, but not as hard as we probably could have,” said Clarke County senior middle Ammie Levi, who gave the Falcons fits with her 12 kills and three solo blocks. “We were kind of tired after winning at George Mason. We want first place [in the Bull Run] so bad. It’s going to be interesting the next time we play [co-leader] Madison County.”
The Eagles (9-5, 7-1 Bull Run) get fellow one-loss Madison County at home next Thursday. The Mountaineers won the first meeting in five sets, but the Eagles must first take care of another team it beat in five sets, William Monroe, Tuesday on the road.
By then, Clarke County coach Mary Brune hopes to see more consistent play from both her offense and her defense. The Eagles have been able to pull out tight sets to win matches, after starting 0-3 on the season. Brune said the Eagles were far from sharp in defeating the Falcons for a second time on Wednesday, even though they gained another sweep over their district foe and closed much better in the end than did Central in all three sets.
“We looked a bit tired, I thought,” Brune said. “We played so slow. I guess we’ll take an ugly win any day.
“We didn’t get as many sets to our top hitters. The passes were off. Everything was just tight. We didn’t block well enough. It definitely made it hard to establish much of a rhythm all night.”
What Clarke County did a whole lot better than Central (3-11, 3-5) was crash for points off free-balls. Levi and sophomore Sydney Chrane used their size well and often produced clutch blocks or kills to dominate play along the front line.
Chrane, who is in her first season with the varsity, appears to be getting stronger with each match. She led the Eagles in kills in their win over fellow upper-division district foe George Mason, and she again produced double-digit kills against Central, collecting a match-best 15 kills and four solo blocks.
“She knows where to put the ball,” said Levi, who added she was proud of Chrane’s continued contributions along the front. “She hits it down. She’s pretty much unstoppable when she enters sets.”
Central came out fired up and built a 6-2 lead, catching the Eagles back on their heels (three early aces allowed) on serve-receive. The Falcons matched the Eagles kill-for-kill through the middle of the set and still led 12-11 after a kill from junior middle Kyla Strother. Clarke County then took its first lead of the match with a five-point run, which included two kills from Levi and one apiece from seniors Mollie Schoeb and Isabella Eyles.
After an attack error by the Falcons, the Eagles had a 16-12 lead and forced Central to use a timeout. The Falcons rallied well, tying the set at 16, 18, 19, and 21 before Clarke County had its first closing run.
A push to the middle for a kill from senior outside Olivia Hart started a 4-0 run to close the set for the Eagles. When Chrane’s serve became too hot to handle and left the Falcons with no other plan than to return it quickly and leave it on the net for Clarke County to crash, Levi was there twice in a row to clean up for points. On set point, junior outside Taylor Weir sent a soft push to the front line for the clinching point and the Eagles’ 18th kill of the set.
Central made a strong stand to even the match up in the second set, using a three-point run late to take a 21-20 lead. The Falcons did blow a chance to go up two points on missed tips from the outside. Two kills by Chrane, coupled with an attack error by the Falcons, saw Clarke County hold a 24-21 lead and bring another set point. A rare missed serve by the Eagles (they had only three in the first two sets) kept Central alive, and kills from Strother and junior outside Rebecca Truban tied the set at 24.
Chrane then stepped up big again, dropping another soft kill to send the Eagles back ahead. An attack error by Central wrapped the set up.
In the third set, the teams traded points through 34 exchanges until Clarke County had enough drive to finish strong again. Levi had two aces to help Clarke County move out to a three-point lead, and Chrane crashed for a block off a free-ball for a 22-18 lead. Eyles had an attack that was blocked out of bounds, and the teams traded errors until Chrane had one more highlight to leave Central shaking its heads.
Off a nifty set from senior Amelia Erickson (12 assists), Crane sent a cross-court hit down the line for match-point.
Though it failed to win a set Wednesday, at least Central (which has no seniors on its roster) drew raves from Brune.
“They certainly played us a lot better than they did last time,” Brune said. “They came to play and I told the girls that they would. This time showed us that we really did have to go out and beat them.”
The Eagles also got eight kills from Eyles, six kills from Schoeb, and 19 assists and two aces from junior setter Stephanie Nelson.